Nutrition and You!

The Top 5 Healthy Processed Foods That You Should Be Eating

Source:  Nutrition & You
The “Farm to Fork” food trend has folks trying to get back to consuming foods more reminiscent of what came from their grandmother’s kitchen (sans the heavy cream sauces).  Processed foods carry the stigma of being less healthy, not as fresh, and inferior to what grandma would have allowed on the dinner table.

Believe it or not, almost all the food that you eat, even the foods “made from scratch," have actually been processed.  According to an article published in the journal, Advances in Nutrition, any food that has been subject to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, mixing, and packaging that alter the food from its natural state is considered a “processed food.”  That means that the orange juice that you pour from the carton in the morning, even though it states that it is “freshly squeezed” is actually a processed food.  

Processed foods can also include the addition of substances, such as vitamins, salt, and preservatives that can improve, reduce, or leave unaffected the nutritional characteristics of the raw food.  For example, since 1998, the enrichment of grains with folic acid has helped reduce the incidences of certain birth defects, known as neural tube defects, by more than 25 percent.  Since neural tube defects can devastate both the brain and spine in babies, they are also a major cause of both death and disability among infants.

On the other hand, adding excess amounts of salt to processed foods reduces the nutritional value of the food as research suggests that as the sodium increases in your diet so does your blood pressure.  Currently, one out of three Americans have high blood pressure, which increases their risk for both heart disease and stroke.  Consuming a diet with a lot of foods heavily processed with sodium is not a good thing for you health.

Lastly, pasteurizing milk leaves the nutritional components of dairy foods unaffected but improves its safety.  Raw milk can contain dangerous pathogens that can cause foodborne illness.  According to an analysis by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the consumption of unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving the consumption of pasteurized dairy products.  Pasteurized dairy foods reduce the risk of foodborne illness among consumers yet leaves the nutritional quality intact.

With the above in mind, here are 5 foods that are processed but are actually good for you:

Breakfast Cereals:

Called the breakfast of champions, whole grain breakfast cereals are the easiest way to start your day on a healthy note.  Whole grains may help not only reduce your risk of heart disease but they are also associated with a trimmer waist.  Rise and dine to a bowl of a whole grain cereal but make sure that you read the Nutrition Fact Panel on the label to help you keep the amount of added sugars to no more than 8 grams (2 teaspoons of added sugar) per serving.

Source: Nutrition & You
Canned Beans:

Beans are an inexpensive source of protein and heart-healthy soluble fiber.  Grab the low sodium canned version or rinse the beans in a colander under running water to remove 50 percent of the sodium per serving, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Yogurt with Vitamin D Added:

Unfortunately, many Americans are not consuming enough bone-strengthening vitamin D.  While milk is routinely fortified with this vitamin, yogurts typically aren’t.  Look for yogurts fortified with added vitamin D to reap the benefits of this important vitamin.
Source:  Nutrition & You

Nut Butters:

All nut butters, such as peanut and almond butters, have been minimally processed into a creamy spread to enable you to enjoy them on your favorite breads, crackers, and sliced fruits.  Nut butters are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant, which most Americans are falling short of in their diets.

Frozen Vegetables:

This is one of the best kept nutrition secrets.  A recent study supports the current thinking that frozen vegetables are a nutrition bargain as they are as nutritious as fresh.  Since frozen veggies are picked at their peak and immediately frozen to preserve their taste and nutrition, you can count on frozen veggies for a serving of good nutrition right out of your freezer.  Read the label to make sure you buy the varieties without the high fat sauces and high sodium seasonings added.

Be well, Joan

                                              Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

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